The Minister for Local Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, the Honourable Desley Boyle, called for clearer reporting of Council rates in a release dated 25 November 2010:
“In some of Queensland’s local government areas ratepayers have expressed confusion about their Council’s budgets in relation to increases in various rates and charges,” Local Government Minister Desley Boyle said in Parliament today.
“What was apparent was that it was very hard for residents of one Council area to compare what had actually happened across all of their rates, utilities and charges compared to last year.
“Neither was it possible for residents in one Council area to compare their Council’s revenue decisions with those of a neighbouring Council.
“Accordingly I announce that through the regulations of the Local Government Act 2009, there will be a mandatory requirement for the disclosure in all Council annual budgets of one practical figure which is consistently calculated by all local governments in Queensland. It is the percentage change in total rates and utility charges revenue.
“This figure represents the actual increase in re venue drawn from the ratepayers of the local government area, incorporating all general and differential rates, separate and special rates and utility – water, sewerage and waste – charges, and includes the effects of any changes to discounts and remissions.
“By requiring this figure to be published by all Councils then residents and ratepayers can see for themselves what the actual level of increase in revenue is, regardless of ups and downs in different revenue streams, discounts and remissions.
“Yes it does mean, no doubt for a very good reason, if a Council is significantly increasing revenue compared to the previous year that will be apparent and of course the Council will provide an explanation for this change.
“This change to the regulation is consistent with the new reporting requirements and the local government principles.
“The publication of this figure in Council budgets provides an apples-with-apples paradigm. It increases transpa rency so that residents and ratepayers can better understand what is happening in their Council budget from one year to the next.
“This has been a big couple of years for local government through the reform program and much has been achieved. Nonetheless there is more to be done in 2011 to smooth the reforms into place and I look forward to a productive partnership with local government in the year ahead for the benefit of all Queenslanders.”